Bates Wells Braithwaite (BWB) recently acted for the Ramblers in its bid to get the Isle of Wight added to the England Coast Path.
The Isle of Wight is to be added to the footpath being created around the length of England’s coast following a change of government policy.
The secretary of state is under a duty to create a complete footpath around England under the Marine and Coastal Access Act 2009. However, this does not include islands not accessible at high tide (such as the Isle of Wight), unless an order is made to include them where the coast is of sufficient length to justify its addition to the coastal path.
Following a consultation in 2012, the government decided not to make an order including the Isle of Wight as part of the English coastal footpath. BWB was instructed by the Ramblers to identify whether this was a lawful decision.
Assisted by the pro-bono advice of George Laurence QC, Melanie Carter of BWB wrote to the secretary of state threatening judicial review, pointing out a number of flaws in the decision (including a conflation of legal tests, the misleading nature of the consultation questions and failure to consider certain consultation responses).
The secretary of state agreed to reconsider his decision on the legal grounds put forward. Following a successful lobbying campaign from the Ramblers, the government has made the order adding the Isle of Wight to the England Coast Path such that this significant coastline will now be included.